The paper discusses Freud’s view of the law as the implementation of collective violence on the individual violator. The focus is on the implications of the link between the superego (as the source of moral judgment) and the aggressive drive, and it is suggested that we need to be ever vigilant regarding the danger of employing the law as a disguised means of taking pleasure in collective violence. The paper also discusses Freud’s conception of personal responsibility, according to which we are responsible for all our behavior, including unconsciously motivated behavior (such as slips and dreams). However, the kind of responsibility Freud has in mind is not the moral responsibility of blameworthiness or praiseworthiness, but rather responsibility in the sense that, whether or not acknowledged, all our behavior reflects our personal desires and motives.
Keywords: Psychoanalysis; Law; Personal responsibility; Collective violence; Unconscious motivation